Turbulent and volatile markets are becoming the norm as life-cycles shorten and global economic and competitive forces create additional uncertainty. The risk attached to lengthy and slow-moving logistics ‘pipelines ’ has become unsustainable, forcing organisations to look again at how their supply chains are structured and managed. This paper suggests that the key to survival in these changed conditions is through ‘agility’, in particular by the creation of responsive supply chains. A distinction is drawn between the philosophies of ‘leanness ’ and ‘agility ’ and the appropriate application of these ideas is discussed. The importance of time as a competitive weapon has been recognised for some time (1). The ability to be able to meet the demands of customers for ever-shorter delivery times and to ensure that supply can be synchronised to meet the peaks and troughs of demand is clearly of critical importance in this era of ‘time-based competition (2). To become more responsive to the needs of the market requires more than speed, it also requires a high level of manoeuvrability that today has come to be termed agility. What is Agility
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